Vann’s service dog!

My son, Vann, was diagnosed with type one diabetes at the young age of 14 months. Vann was such a sick baby and we didn't know why. On one of his many visits to the hospital, we discovered the reason why he was constantly sick. The week spent at Akron Children’s Hospital in the endocrinology unit, where we learned of his diagnoses, changed our lives forever. The emotions we felt during a time like that are hard to explain. Grateful to finally have an answer, angry for my son having to endure the pain now and in the future and down right scared to take our baby home. The thought of having to administer insulin shots up to four times a day and testing glucose levels up to 15 times a day was absolutely terrifying.

Although that time was a whirlwind for our family, Vann is in a much different place now! Ten years strong of growth and absolutely excelling in many areas of his life. Vann is now on an insulin pump and uses a continuous glucose monitoring system to help manage glucose levels at school, during extra curricular activities and, during the most challenging time, while he sleeps.

Diabetes is anything but a black and white disease. There is no way to predict how his body will react to anything on any given day; to manage his diabetes is all we can do! With that comes spikes and extreme lows - some days, leaving Vann exhausted both mentally and physically. Counting carbohydrates, testing blood glucose, administering insulin, monitoring for low blood sugar, changing pump sites or packing his “diabetes bag” full of supplies every time he walks out the door are just some of the many things Vann handles second nature at this point in his life. So much responsibility for an eleven year old has its downside. Vann has developed high anxiety as a consequence of his disease.

As a family, we have explored every avenue possible, within our means, to help try to alleviate some of his stress. One of the most beneficial recommendations we've received, is to get Vann an emotional support dog. A dog that will be trained to  sense times of high anxiety and/or panic. Vann is such a remarkable boy with so many wonderful qualities- he deserves to thrive in every area of his life - including mental health even though he can't prevent his physical disease.

My family and I believe that allowing Vann to have a companion will truly help minimize his anxiety. Our goal would be for Vann to have an outlet, a project and set some long term goals (to become a Therapy Dog at Akron Children's Hospital that he's admired since he was a patient himself!) for himself and his companion to grow together and develop a support system like no other.

Part of the funds raised (approximately $3,000) will be allocated to procuring a Portuguese Water Dog, a specific breed known to be great emotional support and therapy dogs. The remaining funds will go towards the certification lessons to become emotional support service dog that both the dog and Vann will undergo to start their adventure together.

Thank you for your donation! Our family, and most certainly Vann are very appreciative of your support!


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Danielle Riordan 
Massillon, OH
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